I’m on a new upsurge of blogging right now, doing lots of posts, and more comments in other places. It’s easy to see I’ve had surges of posting in the past, but they fizzle out, so I am making a marked effort this time to keep the flow of output.
InspireMe.org’s Two Tips To Make Your Productivity Soar deals with one critical time consumer, staring at a screen wondering what to work on next. They recommend that if you find yourself with an empty to-do list (You do use a to-do list right?) you get up right away, and go and think about what you need to do next.
I’m not sure you even need to go that far, this last week rather then poke around waiting for RSS feeds to update or a new email to drop in searching for some inspiration, when I’ve been at home I’ve stopped, and gone to read a book for a bit, and come back later. And while the actual amount of things I’ve managed to contribute to my various projects on-line has remained pretty much the same, I’ve managed to fit in finishing a book along side. Essentially, rather then worry about not doing anything, I’ve embraced the quiet moments and do something fun. In turn when I get back to working on something more “productive” I generally feel all the better for the break, and am able to think about things more clearly.
A quick and easy trick for speeding up your browsing to regularly viewed sites in Firefox which I find myself using more and more.
Once you have a page bookmarked, right click it and select “Properties” and you will see a “keyword” text box, with this you can simply enter the keyword into the URL field and jump right to the bookmarked page without having to move your hands away from the keyboard, or hunt around in your bookmarks for the link you want.
So for example, I can now quickly jump to my GMail account by tapping Ctrl+t to open a new tab, which automatically puts the url in focus, and then just type “gm” and hit enter. To use the current tab, Ctrl+l will jump you right into the address bar.
For a more complete list of Firefox short cuts, there is a cheat sheet provided by Leslie Franke which has been praised frequently.
I just had a quick play with “GTD with Vim” a seemingly nifty little plug-in that adds some Getting Things Done type functionality into your Vim client.
Now, it’s a neat little plug in that offers some swift keyboard short cuts (and a menu) for adding actions as a line and some syntax highlighting to make it easy to read when you tag it as a project or add a context. But it just seems a little limiting to me, mostly in the way to review the data once it’s in. My Vim-Fu is a little lacking, so maybe there are some short cuts I’m missing, and the formatting falls back neatly to been filtered though “grep” or other text processing tool, but that means leaving it to another application.
Edit: After a bit of further investigation, I discovered that it automatically reorders lines by project name, and then by context, and keeps finished items at the bottom, so no option, just magic that wasn’t immediately obvious as none of my tests cases overlapped.
Still, if you live your life in Vim clients it might be what you need to give you that little bit of an edge. It did make me take another look at the way Vim can be extend in other areas however, and so a worthwhile effort even if not for me right now.
There are no shortage of ways you can constantly tweak your personal time management, and if you’re trying for that 2% more productivity per week, every little can count.
So these three things put forward by Work Place Life aren’t anything amazing on their own, but they can still have an impact when you add them all together, or perhaps give some inspiration as to how else you might shave off some lost time, even if just by a little.
Here’s three more you might try
- Stockpile Stationary
Keeping a collection of various bits of stationary you need in a draw can save you a fair amount of time. If you suddenly find yourself in need of something you don’t want to have to get up mid-flow and trek of to find a stapler or something. For items in limited supply like staplers, keep two - one in common use that you don’t mind lending out. One you keep hold of no matter what, that you only ever use if the common one is AWOL.
- Send Your Personal Mail Via The Company “Out Box”
Firstly I’m not saying the company should pay for your personal mail, but my company is fine with accepting people’s personal mail, stamped as normal and dropping it in the Out Box for collection by the Post Office directly. Which saves me 10 or so minutes each time I want to post something because I don’t need to go out of my way to the postbox.
- Buy Your Lunch
Sure, it costs more to buy lunch if you look at the just the costs of material. But for me, it’s easier to buy a sandwich from the guy who delivers to the office, then it is to make my own. To make a basic sandwich is fairly quick, but the end result isn’t very interesting, and as soon as you start to make it interesting, the cost raises pretty close to what I’m paying anyway, only I have to spend the time putting it together. In other words, as with any money saving exercise don’t forget how much your time is worth.
Today’s “Geek To Live” over at LifeHacker.com lists 10 Top Free and Cheap Productivity Tools. It’s an interesting read, but I don’t agree 100% with the list, I do however agree with the principle - “Free and Cheap” is a good thing, in fact it sums up most of my entire “Getting Things Done” solution, here’s what’s in my top 5 tools right now.
- Pen and Paper
Don’t leave home without it, in fact, don’t leave the room without it. You want to capture that flash of inspiration you had while waiting for your cup of tea to brew without having to hunt down materials to do so.
- D*I*Y Planner or Filofax
In theory, I love the idea of a D*I*Y planner. In practice, I use a Filofax (A5 Logic Zip) with a few sheets from D*I*Y Planner to complement it. I did try to use non-Filofax binders, but there is such a lack of consistency in “contents”. With a Filofax I know I can pick up a new calendar refill each year, without trouble, and I can’t see myself printing, cutting and punching my own diary. The cost of paper, ink and time just makes it ineffective. But for additional sheets, D*I*Y Planner is invaluable.
- Pocket Diary
Carrying an A5 binder that contains your whole life is not ideal, so I picked up a Filofax pocket diary, that doubles up as my wallet so I always have a quick reference of my diary, somewhere to collect notes. - I have mixed feelings about it currently, usually depending on my trouser pockets and how tight they are. Keeping it in sync with my main diary is sadly a memory job currently, something I need to address.
- Post-It Notes
I collect most of my “Next Actions” on Post-It notes that I then stick to a pair of section dividers in my Filofax, or to my monitor edge for the one’s I’m actively working on so I always have an at a glance view of my work load.
- An Inbox
I use an old sweet tin from Christmas as an inbox, it’s an odd shape and so after a while it becomes very difficult to stack extra things in, which prevents over filling and forces me to process it. I’d love to say I use this correctly, but I don’t nearly enough at present.
What I don’t have yet, and what oddly the Lifehacker list also missed, was a Whiteboard - something which is currently top of my to-buy list. (Well, a Nintendo DS lite is top… but the whiteboard is second, and practical to boot) and maybe index Cards might get a look in, but they come more under pen and paper.
You’ve probably heard the quote by Albert Einstein that “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” and you can’t ignore the figures over the long term when it comes to saving your money. But compound increases apply to anything. Including productivity.
I never really though about this before, but I was listening to a Brian Tracy audio book this morning, and it’s mentioned there, and when it was it stuck me as such a simple approach to improvement: If you improve your productivity by just 2% each week, in three months your total productivity will have increased by nearly 27%. And in about eight months, you will have doubled your total productivity. By year end, you’ll be operating at 280% of your current productivity. That’s with just a 2% increase per week.
I started reading PigPog about a week ago now, and I’ve been nicely impressed with their steady stream of articles that pick at my more creative brain regions. The latest article Improve your Writing collects a large number of resources for boosting the quantatiy and quality of your writing output.
I have to admit that more creative writing is still one of those things on my someday/maybe list that I could easily move off into something more worthwhile if I just make even a slight commitment to it, and like anything I’m not going to get any better just thinking about doing it.
I’ve taken a bit of a break on my reading the past week or so, a few things have cropped up in the RealWorld(tm) which have meant I’ve had reading and blogging time pretty limited, but things are now back on track.
So my reading of “7 Habits” has taken a bit of a back-seat, since I’m not going to strictly follow it. I plan to go over the audio book again, and then speed read the book over the next week, and pick out some of the key elements individually, rather then try and compress the book as a whole.
I have been listening over Tony Robbins fairly frequently for a while now, and while I haven’t been really paying attention to the details it’s fairly hard not to get drawn in by the excitable way he talks. I’ll put some more about his stuff in a separate article later in the next week or so.
I’ve also kept to my “Do little things” method of getting stuff sorted out when it comes to organizing my house, and it’s worked well so far, a final push this weekend should see me with a shiny workspace at home and a greater sense of space.
So nothing profound for now, but lots of things nearing completion.
2006 07 14
Over on his blog, Steve Pavlina fields a question/answer post regarding “Is Covering Psychic Development Unprofessional“. And it’s good to see him air his views on such things so openly.
To be fair, I generally skim over those posts, not so much because they don’t interest me, but because I’m not in the right frame of mind while at work to entertain such things, and usually, I forget to come back to them.
Interestingly he does note he gets negative comments about most things he writes, and I guess thats going to happen any time someone takes a more open minded view on things, but even when I don’t really buy in to things like this my self, it’s interesting to see how other people shape they world view and get a better insight into how other people tick